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to Completion
Since 1981

Production Terms Glossary

Quick Start. . . Click on the Letter of Your Choice


An accent mark (called a diacritical) used on some characters to denote a specific pronounciation often found in French, German, Italian, Spanish, and other languages. Accessed through a font’s Glyphs panel. Examples: resumé (acute), façade (cedilla), château (circumflex), chère (grave), señor (tilde), naïve (umlaut)

Accordion Fold
See Grain Direction.

Against the Grain
See Grain Direction.

In computer graphics, a technique used to add greater realism to a digital image by smoothing jagged edges on curved lines and diagonals in a bitmap image by adding additional pixels.

Aqueous Coating (AQ)
Applied to a printed piece like another layer of ink, an AQ coating is a fast-drying, water-based clear finish that is generally thinner than a UV coating. Used to protect the printed piece or to add texture or a special effect, an AQ coating can be applied as an all-over flood coating or used as a spot to highlight certain parts of the printed piece. Informally an AQ coating may be referred to as Varnish.

All original copy, including type, photos and illustrations, intended for printing.


Usually a department within a printing company responsible for finishing work to a printed sheet(s) such as cutting, padding, collating, folding, trimming, numbering, perforating, scoring, laminating, book making, drilling holes, coil or comb binding.

Bitmap Image
A bitmap is a type of graphic composed of pixels (picture element) in a grid. Each pixel or “bit” contains color information for the image. Bitmap graphics formats have a fixed resolution which means that resizing a bitmap graphic can result in distortion and jagged edges. Some common bitmap formats are GIF, JPG or JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PICT, PCX, and BMP. Photo-editors or image-editing graphics software such as Adobe Photoshop and Corel Photo-Paint are designed for creating and editing bitmap graphics.

When any image or element on a page touches the edge of the page or extends beyond the trim edge leaving no margin, it is said to bleed. It may bleed or extend off one or more sides.

Bleed Allowance
An extra amount of printed image (at least 1/8-inch, .125-inch) which extends beyond the trim edge of the sheet or page to counteract the slight deviations caused by slight movement of the paper on the press or movement during cutting. Elements that bleed off the page can sometimes add to the cost of printing if the printer must use a larger size of paper to accommodate the bleed allowance. To reduce costs, redesign the image to eliminate the bleed or reduce the finished size enough to fit the work on a smaller sheet of paper.

Blind Emboss
See Emboss.

Body Copy
The main text of a work, not including headlines.

A dot, square, diamond or similar small graphic to emphasize text, usually in a list.


Camera-Ready Copy
Mechanicals, photographs and art fully prepared for reproduction according to the technical requirements of the printing process being used. More recently, an electronic file (usually a PDF file) fully prepared to printer’s specifications.

Chokes and Spreads
The process of intentionally slightly overlapping touching colors in order to camouflage any minor misalignments on the printing press, thereby preventing gaps between the colors. Called Trapping in digital imaging systems.

Abbreviation for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (K), the four process colors. Black is added to enhance color and contrast. Called full color and 4 color as well as process color printing. A common error is to leave an image in RGB color space instead of converting it to CMYK color space prior to printing.

To gather printed sheets in a specific order, usually prior to binding.

Color Model
Refers to how colors are defined in different mediums. The colors within the definition of each model are referred to as its color space. RGB is the color model used with computers, scanners, monitors and other peripherals; CMYK is the color model used in printing. A common error is to leave a scanned image in the RGB model instead of converting it to CMYK model for printing.

Color Separation
The process of separating color originals into the primary printing color components – C-M-Y-K – or individual spot colors, such as two Pantone Matching System colors.

Comb Bind
To bind by inserting the teeth of a flexible plastic comb through rectangular holes punched along the edge of a stack of paper. Also called plastic bind and GBC bind (a brand name).

(1) In typography, the assembly of typographic elements, such as words and paragraphs, into pages ready for printing.
(2) In graphic design, the arrangement of type, graphics and other elements on the page.

Continuous Tone
Images such as photographs and illustrations having a range of shades not made up of dots, as compared to Line drawings or Halftones.

Phenomenon of middle pages of a folded signature extending slightly beyond outside pages. An illustration of creep would be nested pages of a saddle-stapled booklet extending beyond the cover, thus requiring a Face Trim along the edge opposite the binding edge to “even up” the ragged edges protruding beyond the cover.

Crop Marks
Lines near the edges of an image indicating where sheet is to be cut or trimmed. Also called cut marks, Trim Marks and tic marks.

CSR (Customer Service Representative)
Employee of a printer or other business who coordinates projects, assists customers, and keeps them informed of their job’s progress.

A machine that cuts stacks of paper to desired sizes.

Cutting Die
A custom ordered wooden block with steel cutting rules which have been placed to trim paper or card stock to specific but unusual sizes or shapes.

One of the four process colors. Also known as Process Blue.


See Emboss.

Block of wood with steel rules for cutting or scoring; or a block of magnesium, copper or brass for stamping, embossing and debossing.

Die Cut
The act of using a die, a sharp steel blade on a wood-block, to cut a desired shape or design on paper or cardstock. Die cuts include simple slits designed to hold the corners of a business card, circular cuts to create door hangers, rounded corners, flaps, holes, windows, or pop-ups.

Digital Printing
Printing by plateless imaging systems that are imaged by digital data from a computer or prepress system.

Dots-per-inch (DPI)
See Resolution.

In the printing arena, to drill a hole in paper or card stock. Drill bits are available in a variety of sizes.

Portions of originals that do not reproduce, often purposefully as part of the design.

A preliminary layout showing the position of illustrations and text as they are to appear in the final reproduction. Blank pages are often used to assist in demonstrating pagination. Also called Mock Up.

A two-color halftone reproduction from a one-color photograph. Each negative is produced to emphasize different tonal values in the original.


Electronic Publishing
Disseminating information by publishing to electronic medium such as email or web as compared to output on paper.

To press a three-dimensional image into paper via heat and pressure with a die to achieve a raised surface on blank paper (Blind Emboss) which can be registered to a printed image (Register Emboss) or to foil (Foil Emboss). Dies can be single level, multi-level, beveled, and sculptured to create different looks of embossing. When the image lies below the surface of the paper, or is indented into the paper, it is call Debossing. Blind embossing does not use ink or foil to highlight the area, so the effect is more subtle and not suitable for fine details or small text.

Engraving (Photoengraving)
Printing method using a metal die with an image cut into its surface then filled with opaque engraving ink and pressed against paper creating raised areas of the paper coated with ink.

.EPS file (Encapsulated PostScript file)
An .eps file is one utilizing the storage of data in Encapsulated PostScript, a popular format for storing vector-based or object-oriented artwork. It is considered the best choice of graphics format for high resolution printing of illustrations.

Price that states what a job will probably cost. A more firm estimate is called a bid or Quotation.

Exact Register
Register where ink colors meet precisely without overlapping or allowing space between, as compared to lap register. Also called butt fit and kiss register.


Face Trim
Cut made on the edge of a bound publication opposite the spine in order to trim the edges of the nested pages within to meet the covers of the booklet.

General term for post-press operations such as trimming, folding, binding, etc.

Finished Size
Size of product after production is completed, as compared to flat or press size. Also called trimmed size.

Method of printing on a web press using flexible rubber or plastic plates with raised images. Flexography uses fast-drying inks, is a high-speed print process, can print on many types of absorbent and non-absorbent materials, and can print continuous patterns (such as for giftwrap and wallpaper).

To print a sheet completely with an ink or varnish.

Foil Emboss
To foil stamp and emboss an image in register, resulting in a raised and foil stamped image. Usually performed at the same time, and requires a “combo” die to perform both functions simultaneously.

Foil Stamp
Method of printing foil on paper with a heated die causing the release of the foil from its backing and making the foil adhere to the surface of the paper, leaving the design of the die.

A bindery machine dedicated to folding printed materials. A variety of fold styles are available including:
Accordion – Two or more parallel folds that fold in opposite directions. Although reminiscent of the folds of an accordion (musical instrument), the two are not spelled the same. Seen from above, an accordian fold resembles an M or a series of zigs and zags.
Brochure (letter/tri-) fold – The most common fold, a sheet folded twice making three panels, with the second fold measuring shorter than the first so the third panel can nest inside the first two panels.
Double Parallel fold – As the name implies, second fold parallel to first fold, with panels usually nested. If not nested, the last panel folds out to form a zig zag pattern.
French fold / Right Angle fold A sheet folded in half, and then perpendicularly in half again.
Gate fold – A sheet where both sides fold to meet in the center but do not overlap so that the sheet opens like two doors side-by-side. The paper might be folded again down the middle so that the folded edges meet, creating a double gate fold.
Single fold – As the name implies, a sheet folded once to make equal halves.
Z (zig zag) fold – Two or more parallel folds, each folding in opposite directions. Because they do not nest, panels can be the same size. Seen from above, a zig zag fold resemble a Z.

See Typeface.

(1) The size, style, type page, margins, printing requirements, etc., of a printed piece.
(2) Graphic data stored in a file for use in other programs. Two of the most common formats are .tif files (Tagged Image File Format) and .eps (Encapsulated Postscript).

For Position Only (FPO)
Refers to inexpensive copies of photos or art used on mechanical to indicate placement and scaling, but to be replaced prior to printing with a higher resolution image. Can also be used to show a trade vendor size and/or position of their portion of the job.

Four-Color Process Printing
Technique of printing that uses black, magenta, cyan and yellow to simulate full-color images. Also called full color printing and process printing. Can be achieved via offset press, or digital printer.


To reproduce two or more different printed products simultaneously on one sheet of paper during one press run. Also called combination run.

Gate fold
See Folder.

Signatures assembled or stacked in the proper sequence for binding, as compared to Nested.

Each succeeding stage in reproduction from the original copy or artwork.

Ghost Image
An image whose density has been reduced to produce a faint image.

Phenomenon of a faint image appearing on a printed sheet where it was not intended to appear. Chemical ghosting refers to the transfer of the faint image from the front of one sheet to the back of another sheet. Mechanical ghosting refers to the faint image appearing as a repeat of an image on the same side of the sheet.

Alternate character style, ornament, or symbol available in a font. Glyph palettes vary by Typeface.

Graduated Screen Tint
Screen tint that changes densities gradually and smoothly, not in distinct steps. Also called Gradient and creates an effect called Vignette.

Grain Direction
Predominant direction in which fibers in paper become aligned during manufacturing. Paper folds more smoothly when the fold follows the grain (folds with the grain). Paper is stiffer in the grain direction. When exposed to moisture (humidity), paper expands or contracts more in the cross grain direction.Grain Long Paper: Paper whose fibers run parallel to the long dimension of the sheet (machine direction).
Grain Short Paper: Paper whose fibers run parallel to the short dimension of the sheet (cross direction).
With the Grain: Folding or feeding paper with the grain direction of the paper parallel to the blade of the folder or the axis of the impression cylinder.
Against the Grain (cross grain): Folding or feeding paper at right angles to the grain direction.

Graphic Design
The process and art of combining text and graphics, including specifications for paper, ink colors and printing processes that, when combined, communicate an effective visual message.

Visual elements that supplement type to make printed messages more clear or interesting.

Gripper Edge
The leading edge of a sheet going through the press or printer. Also called feeding edge and leading edge.

Gripper Margin
Unprintable space on the leading edge where it is grabbed by the press or printer to be pulled through the machine.

Grams per Square Meter — the unit of measurement for paper weight. The larger the number, the heavier or thicker the sheet.

A white space formed by the adjoining inside margins of two facing pages.


Hairline (Rule or Register)
Subjective term referring to very small space, thin line or close register. In printing, plus-or-minus one-half row of dots.

The reproduction through a screening process of a photograph or other continuous-tone image which converts the image into dots of various sizes.

Hard Copy or Proof
Image printed on paper or other substrate, as opposed to a soft copy or proof (electronic file image).

Head-to-Head (Top-to-Top, Work & Tumble)
Imposition with head (top) of page aligned with head (top) of second side of page. Also, to print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn it over from left to right and print the second side using the same gripper and plate but opposite side guide.

Head-to-Tail (Work & Roll, Work & Turn)
Imposition with head (top) of page facing tail (bottom) of second side of page. Also, to print one side of a sheet of paper, then turn it over from gripper to back using the same side guide and plate to print the second side.

Spot or imperfection in printing caused by dirt on the plate or blanket, dried ink skin, paper dust particles, etc.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
The coding language that is used to create documents for use on the World Wide Web/Internet.

Hypertext (Hyperlink)
Words or phrases in an online document that, when selected, cause another document to be retrieved, opened and displayed.


Image Area
The actual area on the printed matter that is not restricted to ink coverage.

Arrangement of pages within a signature so they will appear in proper sequence after signatures are printed, folded and bound. For example, printing a 5.5” x 8.5” booklet requires the use of imposition to print the pages onto letter size (8.5″ x 11”) sheets of paper so that when assembled and folded end up with the pages in the right order for reading.

One impression equals one side of one press sheet passing once through a printing unit (offset or digital).

Ink Jet Printing
Method of printing that produces images directly on paper from digital data using streams of very fine drops of dyes which are controlled by digital signals to produce images on paper.

An additional blank or printed item to be positioned into a publication.

ISBN (International Standard Book Number)
A number assigned to a published work and usually found either on the title page or the back of the title page. Also printed with the bar code on the back cover.


A machine with a sloping platform which vibrates to align sheets of paper into a compact pile.

JPEG, JPG file (format developed by Joint Photographic Experts Group)
A bitmap format for photographic images best used for on-screen display or email exchange of large low-resolution photographs and other images with millions of colors, and for temporary storage such as on digital camera memory cards.


Abbreviation for black in four-color process printing. It’s the ‘K’ in CMYK.

Subtracting space between two characters bringing them closer together.

Kiss Die Cut
To die cut the top layer, but not the backing layer, of self-adhesive paper. Also called face cut.

A knockout is a portion of an image that has been removed. When two colors overlap, they don’t normally print on top of each other. The bottom color is knocked out of – not printed – in the area where the other color overlaps.


A plastic film bonded to a sheet by heat and pressure to protect it against liquid and heavy use, and usually accents existing color and provides a glossy effect. Also available in non-glare material.

Laser-Imprintable Ink/ Laser Safe Ink
Ink that will not fade or blister as the paper on which it is printed is used in a laser printer.

The drawing or sketch of a proposed printed piece.

Those rows of dots that help lead the reader from one bit of information to another across a page such as used in a table of contents, an index, or a price list. Leaders can be dots, dashes, squares, diamonds or even solid lines.

Pronounced “ledding”. Amount of space between lines of type, measured in points.

Letter Fold
See Folder.

The process of printing from an inked raised surface, using either metal type or plates whose surfaces have been etched away from image areas. Also called block printing.

Line Art
Any high-contrast image, including type, suitable for reproduction without using a halftone screen. Also called line copy and line work.

The process of printing from a plane or flat surface using plates on which the image to be printed is ink-receptive and the blank area is ink-repellent. Invented in 1796 by Alois Senefelder, lithography uses the fact that oil and water don’t mix as the basis of the printing process. The image can be printed directly from the plate (the orientation of the image is reversed), or it can be offset, by transferring the image onto a flexible sheet (rubber) for printing and publication.

Live Area
Area on a mechanical within which images will print. Also called safe area.

Logo (Logotype)
A graphic design that denotes a unique entity by combining letters and/or art work to create a symbol of that specific entity. Often used as a trademark in advertising for a company or product.

Small magnifying lens often built into a small fold-up stand. Used to inspect copy, film, proofs, plates and printing. Also used by jewelers and watchmakers.

LPI (Lines Per Inch)
Measurement of the number of lines per inch of halftone spots used to simulate continuous tone images. LPI is sometimes also called line or screen frequency. LPI varies by type of printing from as low as 35 LPI for screen printing to 300+ LPI for some high quality offset printing (such as glossy magazines). 85 to 133 LPI is the typical range for most offset printing on small presses.


One of the four process colors.

All activities required to prepare a press or other machine to function for a specific printing or binding job, as compared to production run. Also called setup.

The part of a page or sheet outside the main body of printed or written matter.

Instructions and proof marks written usually on a Dummy.

Opaque material used to prevent light from reaching part of an image on a printing plate during exposure, therefore isolating the remaining part.

First generation original document from which copies are to be made. Also, paper or plastic plate used on a duplicating press.

Camera-ready assembly of type, graphic and other copy complete with instructions to the printer. Also called an artboard or paste-up. A soft mechanical, also called an electronic mechanical, exists as a file of type and other images assembled using a computer.

Metal Plate
See Printing Plate.

Metallic Ink
Ink containing powdered metal or pigments that simulate metal.

Mil 1/1000 Inch
The thickness of plastic films such as used in lamination are expressed in mils. We have laminate film in 1.5 mil, 5 mil, and 10 mil.

Mock Up
A reproduction of the original printed matter and possibly containing instructions or directions.

Undesirable screen pattern resulting when halftones and screen tints are made with incorrect screen angles. Also often appears when a previously screened image is rescreened.

Spotty, uneven ink absorption, mostly in solid areas. A mottled image may be called mealy.


Signatures or sheets assembled one inside another in the proper sequence for binding, as compared to Gathered. Also called Inset.

Novelty Printing (Promotional Products)
Printing on products such as coasters, pencils, balloons, golf balls and ashtrays, known as advertising specialties or premiums.


OCR (Optical Character Recognition)
The ability to scan printed text and convert it to a digitized file that can be edited as a text file, then saved as a new document file.

Unintentional and undesirable transfer of wet ink from the top of one sheet to the back of another as they lie in the delivery stack of a press or on a drying rack. Also called setoff.

Offset Printing
When used in combination with the lithographic process, which is based on the repulsion of oil and water, an inked impression from a plate is first made on a rubber-blanketed cylinder and then transferred or “offset” to the paper being printed. Also known as offset lithography, it is the most commonly used commercial printing process. Development of the offset press came in two versions: in 1875 by Robert Barclay of England for printing on tin, and in 1904 by Ira Washington Rubel of the United States for printing on paper.

Characteristic of ink that prevents the Substrate from showing through.

To cover flaws in negative with tape or opaquing paint. Also called block out and spot.

OpenType Fonts (.otf)
An extension of the TrueType font format but also can contain PostScript data; developed jointly by Adobe and Microsoft. OpenType fonts are cross-platform, meaning the same font file works under both Macintosh and Windows Operating systems. This digital type format offers extended character sets and more advanced typographic controls.

Order Out
To subcontract for a service that is closely related to the business of the organization. Also called farm out. Work that is sent out is sometimes referred to as being “out of house.”

To print one image over a previously printed image, such as to print type over a screen tint, or to avoid the need for trapping to eliminate gaps between touching colors. Also called surprint.

Over Run / Under Run
Copies printed in excess (or short) of the specified quantity. Overage policy varies in the printing industry. Often, an overage /shortage of 10% is accepted as billable product. (As overage, your order is for 500; you may receive and be billed for 550; if shortage, you may receive and be billed for 450.)


Page Count
Total number of pages in a publication.

In the book arena, the order and numbering of pages.

One page of a brochure, such as one panel of a brochure. A letter-folded sheet has six panels (three per each side of the sheet).

Pantone Matching System (PMS)
Industry-standard color charts used to identify, display or define special colors of inks. Called by trade name Pantone Colors, not the obsolete term of PMS Colors.

Paper Plate
See Printing Plate.

Parallel Fold
See Folder.

To paste copy to mounting boards and, if necessary, to overlays so it is assembled into a camera-ready mechanical. The mechanical produced is often called a paste-up.

.PDF file (Portable Document File)
A universal electronic file format which is device- and resolution-independent thus allowing the transfer of designs across multiple computer platforms.

Perfect Bind
Method of bookbinding where a flexible adhesive attaches a paper cover to the spine of the assembled signatures, such as found on a paperback book. Also called adhesive bind, glue bind, paper bind, soft bind and soft cover.

Perfecting Press
Press capable of printing both sides of the paper during a single pass. Also called duplex press and perfector.

Taking place on a press or a bindery machine, creating a line of small dotted holes for the purpose of creating a tear-off part of a printed sheet.

See Engraving.

Printer’s unit of measurement used principally in typesetting. A pica is approximately 1/6th-inch (0.166 in.) There are 12 points to a pica, and 6 picas to an inch.

Phenomenon of the pulling force or tackiness of ink lifting bits of coating or fiber away from the surface of paper, thus leaving unprinted spots in the image area.

Defect of small unwanted holes in printed areas because of a variety of reasons, including paper dust or overuse of powder to prevent image offset.

Pin Register
Technique of registering separations, flats and printing plates by using small holes, all of equal diameter, at the edges of both flats and plates.

Short for “picture element”, the smallest resolvable point of a raster image; the basic unit of digital imaging.

See Printing Plate.

(1) In quick printing, a process camera that makes plates automatically from mechanicals.
(2) In commercial lithography, a machine with a vacuum frame used to expose plates through film.

A more recent version of platemaker whereby an electronically created file is imaged directly onto a plate as part of the Computer-To-Plate (CTP) technology, which results in a higher quality image.

Pleasing Color
Color that is considered satisfactory because is it “pleasing to the eye,” even though it may not precisely match original samples, scenes or objects.

Obsolete reference to Pantone Matching System.

(1) Regarding paper, a unit of thickness equating 1/1000 inch, as measured with a micrometer
(2) Regarding type/font size, a unit of measure equaling 1/12 pica and .013875 inch (.351mm).

PPI (Pixels per inch)
See Resolution.

Covers all the information and skills needed to quickly, accurately and effectively determine if all job components required for output and/or proofing are met before a job enters the production workflow, including font issues, completeness of electronic mechanicals, missing page elements and linked image files.

File creation, camera work, color separations, stripping, platemaking and other prepress functions performed by the printer prior to printing. Also called preparation or setup.

To print portions of sheets that will be used for later imprinting. Also called shells.

Press Check
To examine makeready sheets from the press for approval, usually to check accuracy of color, before authorizing full production to begin.

Price Break
Quantity at which unit cost of paper or printing drops.

Printer Spreads
Mechanicals made so they are imposed for printing, as compared to Reader Spreads.

Any process that transfers an image from an original (such as a film negative or positive, electronic memory, stencil, die or plate) to paper or another Substrate.

Printing Plate
Piece of paper, metal, plastic or rubber carrying an image to be reproduced using a printing press. Quick printing uses “paper” (synthetic) or metal plates; letterpress, engraving and commercial lithography use metal plates; flexography uses rubber or soft plastic plates. Gravure printing uses a cylinder.

Process Color
The printing process which uses the CMYK color model: yellow, magenta, cyan and black, usually printed or “laid down” in that respective order.

Test sheet made to check that all text, graphics and colors come out as expected before going to press. A prepress proof uses ink jets, dyes, overlays or other methods to simulate the final printed piece. A press proof (or Press Check) uses the printing plates and inks specified for the job.

Proofreader Marks
Standard symbols and abbreviations used to mark up manuscripts and proofs. Also called correction marks.

Proportion Scale
Round device used to calculate percent that an original image must by reduced or enlarged to yield a specific reproduction size. Also called percentage wheel, proportion dial, proportion wheel and scaling wheel.


Subjective term relating to expectations by the customer, printer and other professionals associated with a printing job and whether the job meets those expectations.

Quick Printing
Printing using small sheetfed presses, called duplicators, using cut sizes of paper.

Price offered by a printer to produce a specific job. A more firm price than given for an Estimate. Subject to change if the specifications are altered.


Raster Image
A type of graphic composed of pixels (picture element) in a grid. Each pixel or “bit” contains color information for the image. Bitmap graphics formats have a fixed resolution which means that resizing a bitmap graphic can result in distortion and jagged edges. Some common bitmap formats are GIF, JPG or JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PICT, PCX, and BMP. Photo-editors or image-editing graphics software such as Adobe Photoshop and Corel Photo-Paint are designed for creating and editing bitmap graphics.

Raster Image Processor (RIP)
Computer hardware and software that translates page description commands into bitmapped information for an output device such as a laser printer or imagesetter.

Reader Spread
Mechanicals made in two page spreads as readers would see the pages, as compared to Printer Spread.

To place printing of two or more images in exact alignment with each other. Such printing is said to be in register.

Register Emboss or Stamp
The embossed area is aligned to, or in register with, printed or stamped graphics. Debossing can be categorized in the same way.

Register Marks
Cross-hair lines on mechanicals and film that help keep flats, plates, and printing in register (in alignment) with each other. Also called crossmarks and position marks.

SPI (Samples Per Inch) Scanner and digital image resolution is properly called SPI or samples per inch. To scan an image the scanner takes a sampling of portions of the image. The more samples it takes per inch, the closer the scan is to the original image. The higher the resolution, the higher the SPI.
DPI (dots per inch; printer resolution) and PPI (pixels per inch; display resolution) are often used instead of SPI when talking about image resolution although they are actually different measures of resolution. Generally, a resolution of 72 ppi is used for internet and web design; 300 dpi or above is used for printing.

Type, graphic or illustration reproduced by printing ink around its outline, thus allowing the underlying color or paper to show through and form the image. The image ‘reverses out’ of the ink color. Also called knockout and liftout.
RFP/RFQ (Request For Proposal/Request for Quotation)
The RFP/RFQ spells out the parameters of the job – the type of design work requested along with any restrictions or specific requests as to colors, fonts, format, printing, delivery deadlines, etc. – which are then used to estimate what the project will cost to produce.

RGB (Red, Green, Blue color space)
Working with images destined for the screen or the Web, colors are designated by the amount of red, green, or blue in the color, using numbers between 1 and 255. RGB is the most common color mode used when creating graphics, even though graphics to be commercially printed are eventually converted to CMYK mode, the colors used in printing inks.

(1) Line used as a graphic element to separate, organize, emphasize copy or decorate a page.
(2) Metal strip in a wooden block with a sharp edge or a rounded edge, for die cutting and scoring, respectively.


Saddle Stitch
To bind by stapling nested sheets together where they fold at the spine, as compared to side stitch. Also called pamphlet stitch, saddle wire and stitch bind.

Sans Serif
A typeface with no serifs.

To enlarge or reduce an image to achieve the correct size for printing.

To impress or indent a mark in paper so it folds more easily and accurately. Also called crease.

Screen Density
Refers to the percentage of ink coverage that a screen tint allows to print. Also called screen percentage.

Screen Printing
Method of printing by using a squeegee to force ink through an assembly of mesh fabric and a stencil.

Screen Ruling
Number of rows or lines of dots per inch in a halftone screen for making a screen tint or halftone. Also called line count, ruling, screen frequency, screen size and screen value.

Screen Tint
Color created by dots instead of solid ink coverage. Also called Benday, fill pattern, screen tone, shading, tint and tone.

Self Cover
Usually in the book arena, a publication using only text stock throughout.

Self Mailer
A printed item independent of an envelope. A printed item capable of travel in the mailing arena independently, such as a folded brochure or newsletter. Must meet U.S. Post Office standards regarding size and weight.

Usually in the four-color process arena, separate film holding images of one specific color per piece of film: Black, Cyan, Magenta and Yellow. Can also separate specific Pantone colors through film.

The short cross lines at the ends of the main strokes of letters.

A sheet when folded becomes one unit (of several pages) of a book, magazine or other publication.

Slip Sheets
Separate sheets independent from the original run positioned between the “printed run” for a variety of reasons. Slip sheets can separate sections of books prior to adding tabbed dividers or covers and being bound, or be placed between printed sheets (such as business cards or postcards) so that when placed in a cutter and pressure is applied, the wet ink does not offset to the back of the card above it.

Any area of the sheet receiving 100 percent ink coverage, as compared to a screen tint.

Soy-based Inks
Inks using vegetable oils instead of petroleum products as pigment vehicles, thus are easier on the environment.

Complete and precise written description of features of a printing job such as type size and leading, paper grade and quantity, printing or binding method. Abbreviated specs.

Back or binding edge of a publication.

Spiral Bind
To bind using a spiral of continuous wire or plastic looped through holes punched along the binding side. Also called coil bind. This method of binding allows the publication to lay flat when opened.

Split Fountain
Technique of putting ink colors next to each other in the same ink fountain and printing them off the same plate. A split fountain keep edges of colors distinct, as compared to a rainbow fountain that blends edges.

Paper that, due to mistakes or accidents, must be thrown away instead of delivered to the customer, as compared to waste.

Spot Color or Varnish
One pre-mixed ink or varnish applied to portions of a sheet, as compared to a flood or painted sheet. Spot Color ink is printed in one press run per color, not the four press runs of CMYK to make one color. Spot Varnish can be clear ink, resin varnish, Ultra-Violet (UV) coating or Aqueous (AQ) coating.

(1) Two pages that face each other and are designed as one visual or production unit.
(2) Technique of slightly enlarging the size of an image to accomplish a hairline trap with another image which has been Choked or slightly reduced.

Step and Repeat
Prepress technique of exposing the same image by “stepping” it in position according to a predetermined layout to achieve a “multiple up” image for more economical printing.

Style Guide
A set of guidelines used by an entity to insure consistency in their printed documents and web sites. A style guide is a set of guidelines that dictates things such as punctuation (quotation marks inside or outside a period), grammar, preferred spelling and capitalization (gray / grey or Web site / website), formatting of citations and other references, abbreviations (TX / Tex. or US / U.S.), and other matters related to both the readability and visual appearance of material.

Any surface or material on which printing is done.

Abbreviation for recommended Specifications for Web Offset Publications


A standard layout. A master copy of a publication used as a starting point to design new documents, a template can be used to help insure that individuals in an organization create memos, brochures, business cards, Web sites, and other documents in a uniform fashion.

Designation for printing papers with textured surfaces and attractive colors. Many are available in matching Cover weights and Envelopes. Some mills also use ‘text’ to refer to any paper they consider top-of-the-line, whether or not its surface has a texture.

Method of printing using colorless resin powder that takes on the color of underlying ink. Printed on an offset press, “dusted” with resin powder, then passed through a heater which makes the resin rise like yeast dough only in the places where the resin has contact with ink. Also called raised printing and when first introduced to the market, poor man’s engraving.

Sketches of ideas in regard to initial concept of a future project.

TIFF or .tif file (Tagged Image File Format)
Standard computer file format for scanned images such as photographs and other large bitmaps. Ideal for high resolution printing to PostScript printers and imagesetters. One of the most commonly used and versatile graphics formats in desktop publishing, it is a neutral format designed for compatibility with all applications.

Screening or adding white to a solid color for results of lightening that specific color.

The specifications of acceptable variations in register, density, dot size, plate or paper thickness, and other printing parameters.

Trade Shop
Service bureau, printer or bindery working primarily for other graphic arts professionals, not for the general public.

Film designed to view a picture or design by light shining through it.

To compensate for the possibility of misregistration on the printing press when two colors are adjacent to each other by printing small areas of overlapping color where the objects meet. Trapping makes those gaps less noticeable, even invisible.

Trim Marks
Short lines placed outside the “active” image area which indicate the edge of the sheet, or trim size. Also called Crop Marks.

Trim Size
The size of the printed material in its finished stage (e.g., the finished trim size is 5.5” x 8.5”).

True Type Fonts (.ttf)
Like other digital typefaces, the TrueType font file contains information such as outlines and character mappings (which characters are included in the font). Available for both the Mac and Windows formats, there are slight differences in the TrueType fonts designed for each OS therefore Mac and Windows users cannot share TrueType fonts.

Type 1 Fonts (PostScript Fonts)
A subset of the PostScript language. PostScript Type 1 font files consist of two files — a screen font with bitmap information for on-screen display – .pfm (Printer Font Metrics), and a file with outline information for printing the font – .pfb (Printer Font Binary). For commercial printing, both of the Type 1 font files must be included with the application file. Due to differences in their structure, Mac and Windows PostScript Type 1 fonts are not cross-platform compatible.

The design of an alphabet or set of characters. By contrast, font is a specific typeface in a specific point size and style.


Universal Copyright Convention (UCC)
A system to protect unique work from being reproduced without knowledge from the originator. To qualify, one must register their work and publish a (c)-copyright symbol indicating registration.

Term refers to imposition of one image to be printed in one impression on a larger sheet to take advantage of full press capacity. For example, “two up” means printing two of the identical piece each sheet; two forms 8.5” x 5.5” will fit on one 8.5” x 11” sheet, printed, then cut to the trim or finished size.

A URL is a specific type of Uniform Resource Identifier (URI), although many people use the two terms interchangeably. A URL, Uniform Resource Locator, implies the means to access an indicated resource on the world wide web, which is not true of every URL.

UV Coating
A finish applied to a piece of paper or to a printed piece, a UV coating is a thin coating that is dried by exposure to ultra-violet radiation. A UV coating can be fairly thick, provides a variety of glossy and dull finishes, and can be applied as an all-over flood coating or used as a spot to highlight certain parts of the printed piece. Informally a UV coating may be referred to as Varnish.


Part of the printing or finishing process, varnish (clear or tinted) is applied like a final layer of ink after a piece is printed. Varnish adds a glossy, satin, or dull (matte) finish, and can be a flood coating (applied to the entire page) or a highlight spot (applied to only parts of the page or design). The term varnish is often used informally to refer to other types of finish coatings including UV (ultra-violet) and AQ (Aqueous, water-based).

Graphics which are a resolution-independent, scalable format composed of individual objects made up of mathematical calculations. Vector images can be resized easily without loss of quality making them an ideal format for initial design of logos and illustrations that are planned to be used at multiple sizes.

An illustration in which the background fades gradually away until it blends into the unprinted paper.

VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds)
Petroleum substances used as the vehicles for many printing inks.


Wash Up
To clean ink and fountain solutions from rollers, fountains, screens, and other press components.

Unusable paper or paper damaged during normal makeready, printing or binding operations, as compared to Spoilage.

Web Press
Press that prints from rolls of paper, usually cutting it into sheets after printing. Also called reel-fed press. Web presses come in many sizes, the most common being mini, half, three quarter (also called 8-pages) and full (also called 16-pages).

White Space
The absence of text and graphics on a printed sheet.

(1) In a printed product, a die-cut hole revealing an image on the sheet behind it.
(2) On a mechanical, an area that has been marked for placement of a piece of artwork.

With the Grain
See Grain Direction.

Work and Tumble / Work and Roll
See Head-to-Tail.

Work and Turn
See Head-to-Head.

WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)
Pronounced “wizzy wig”, this means that what you see on the computer monitor is generally going to be what you see in the printed copy. What you see on-screen can never exactly duplicate what the printed page will look like.


X-Acto Knife
An X-Acto knife is a blade mounted on a pen-like aluminium body. Before electronic media, preparing camera-ready art for use in printing (literal cut and paste or paste up) depended heavily on the use of knives like the X-Acto for trimming and manipulating slips of paper.


One of the four process colors.


Z Fold (Zig Zag Fold)
See Folder.